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Are Aboriginals in Australia Better off Today, Compared to 100 Years Ago During the Stolen Generation?

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Essay title: Are Aboriginals in Australia Better off Today, Compared to 100 Years Ago During the Stolen Generation?

Australian independence from Britain changed little in the relationship between Whites and Aborigines. The occupation of main land and the spread of European livestock over vast areas made a traditional Aboriginal lifestyle less viable, but also provided a ready alternative supply of fresh meat for those prepared to risk taking advantage of it.

As large sheep and cattle stations came to dominate outback Australia, Aboriginal men, women and children became a significant source of labour, usually on a voluntary basis but sometimes under conditions that amounted to virtual slavery. For European workers, life in the outback was harsh, dangerous and ill paid. For Aboriginal workers it was usually even worse, wages often being restricted to food and other basic items, particularly in the early years. Normally, an Aboriginal stockman could expect to earn half as much as a European doing the same job. This system lasted until the introduction of equal pay legislation in 1965, which ironically brought about widespread unemployment and more poverty.

In Australia in 1883, the Aborigines Protection Board was established and, unbelievably, this existed up until 1969, when it was finally abolished. During this period, an estimated 1 in 10 of all Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families in an effort to 'civilize' them by assimilation into European society and culture. Government authorities assumed legal guardianship of all Indigenous children and removed approximately 100,000 part-Aboriginal children from their parents and placed them with white Australian families, or in institutional care. Often they were abused, or used as domestic servants, or simply placed in homes against their will.

During later years, these laws gradually changed. For example, the Australian Constitution originally did not permit Aborigines to be counted in the census, so effectively denying their right to vote. In 1967, a referendum was held to allow Indigenous Australians to be counted in the census and to allow the Federal Government to make laws to benefit Indigenous Australians. This referendum was successful with a huge majority, 90.77%, the largest majority ever obtained by a referendum on any question in Australian history favouring the constitutional modifications.

The referendum had two main outcomes. The first was to alter the legal boundaries within, which the Federal Government could act. It was given a constitutional head-of-power, which it could make special laws for the benefit of Aborigines. The Australian Constitution states that federal law prevails over state law, so the Federal Government could, enact legislation that would end discrimination against Aborigines by state governments.

The other key outcome of the referendum was to provide Aborigines with a symbol of their political and moral rights. The referendum occurred

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